Young toddlers and babies are often frustrated by puzzles at first, and it’s very likely that pieces will end up where they shouldn’t (like in their mouths). Thankfully, neither of these issues will be a problem with the bright and fun new 3D puzzles from Green Toys. The wonderfully colorful Tea Time, Dump Truck and Garden puzzles from Green Toys are simple, safe and fun for tots. They’re the perfect first puzzles for babies and toddlers who are working on developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Each durable puzzle set comes with a tray and clunky, easy-to-hold 3D pieces that encourage imaginative play. Like all Green Toys, these puzzles are made in the USA with 100% recycled plastic and they are free and clear of BPA, phthalates and PVC. Plus, the sets are easy to clean, dishwasher safe and packaged with recycled and recyclable materials that are printed with soy inks. Bonus: with an inexpensive price point, you’ll be able to stock the playroom with all three fun puzzles!
Did you have a favorite part of the playground when you were a kid? For me it was the slide. The park in my childhood neighborhood had a metal slide with a bar across the landing that made it easy to ratchet up your speed upon take off. Among the neighbor kids, learning how to flip over the bar was considered a right of passage. I clearly remember flipping upside down in the sunshine, feet slamming down onto the metal with a bang before slip-sliding down into the sand below. As much fun as it was, that little metal slide pales in comparison to these awesome slides we found in playgrounds, water parks, (and in one case - a townhouse!) around the world! Join us in saying a big collective WHHHHHEEEEEE!!!
Once Ogura Asahi Kindergarten reached it's 50th anniversary, the school realized they weren't up to proper earthquake code. Instead of simply bringing the school up to code however, Architects HIBINOSEKKEI+Youji no Shiro gave the school a completely beautiful make-over packed with eco-friendly components. The kindergarten, located in Saitama, Japan is now not only sustainable in a structural sense, but upgrades strive to teach children how to value the planet's resources. Keep reading to learn more.
Tucked in a grove of poplar trees, Bruno Ferrin began building an amusement park by hand as a way of attracting people to his family's restaurant. Forty years later, the sprawling amusement park consists of over 40 rides, all of which have been constructed by Bruno and many of which were inspired by nature. The forest location makes Osteria Ai Pioppi a magical, yet off the beaten path destination. Only restaurant-goers and guests at the on-site restaurant and cafe can visit the amusement park, which is otherwise free. Watch the video after the jump to see the charming Bruno discuss how he built this amazing ecological park with his own two hands.
The Edible Learning Lab is an afterschool program for students to learn through the process of food production from soil to table. Even a quick inspection will reveal that this generation is woefully unaware of how their food is made, and the costs that go into it. This lack of awareness can lead to bad health and nutrition, and decisions that impact the sustainability and security of our food system. As First Lady Michelle Obama states, “The physical and emotional health of an entire generation and the economic health and security of our nation is at stake.” Movements, programs, and campaigns, like the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign, are transforming the learning environment to incorporate food and nutrition education, but there is still a great need for hands-on and engaging learning opportunities. Tim Miner with Modern Steader runs the Edible Learning Lab in Buffalo, WY, an afterschool program partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of the Bighorns and local elementary school Meadowlark Elementary. Last year, Miner joined forces with the Boys & Girls Club CEO Lisa Mueller to tackle the divide between students and their food. Using a student- and teacher-oriented curriculum, the Edible Learning Lab “deconstructs the food production process” through six (soon to be eight) different systems: Seed starting, vertical hydroponics using ZipGrow Towers, raised planters, vermiculture, composting, and a seed library. Soon, the students will also be learning with a water collection system, and a teaching kitchen. The Edible Learning Lab not only teaches students in the town of Buffalo, but empowers other educators and program leaders across the US to do the same. The Edible Learning Lab curriculum takes the guesswork out of starting a learning garden by providing not only lesson plans but “teach the teacher” resources to help teachers understand the teaching aspect of the material.
Teachers and program managers can learn more about the Edible Learning Lab and educational gardens at https://brightagrotech.com/classroom-hydroponics.
Although BPA may have (finally) been banned from baby bottles and a general consensus about its toxic potential has been reached… don’t relax yet. A new database from the Environmental Working Group demonstrates that BPA is still widely used in nearly 16,000 food and drink items. The EWG’s list is actually based on a food industry list that was previously compiled as part of a California proposition requiring a consumer warning for chemicals. The warnings in California, in addition to being difficult to find, are often placed at the checkout counter, which is basically the parental equivalent of the finish line at a marathon when shopping with kids. Even if parents do notice the warning at checkout, they are unlikely to get out of line in search of a BPA-free product. The EWG’s version is much more user-friendly, listing brands and products in an easily searchable fashion so that parents can check it out before or during their shopping excursions. While we are often cautious of BPA lurking in canned food (even organic), we were surprised at the prevalence of BPA found in the lids of glass containers as well as coffee cans, soda cans, even aerosol cans like those used for whipped cream or cooking spray. BPA is used in 126 billion food cans manufactured in the U.S. each year. The EWG’s list is a handy one to have around to make sure your family isn’t buying them. Check out their Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 produce lists while you’re at it.
There's an ever-growing interest in forest kindergarten programs in the US, especially in the Pacific Northwest region. We've covered a few such programs—also known as outdoor playschools, forest schools or outdoor preschools—before on Inhabitots, but the School's Out documentary and recent reports highlighting forest kindergartens popping up around the country have led us to cast our net a little wider. If these programs have piqued your interest, we've prepared a roundup for you of nine of the most inspirational forest kindergarten programs from around the world to showcase the various ways they are being approached and implemented. We hope the following schools will prompt you to investigate local programs further or perhaps inspire you to set up a similar preschool in your own community.